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Since the days of Jimmy Carter, both Democratic and Republican presidents have vowed to curb the paper-shuffling. Printers, who do the heavy lifting when bureaucrats dream up new forms, say that Republicans tend to spawn defense-related forms while Democrats breed those tied to social programs. “As a Republican, I love it when the Dems run the White House and Congress,’’ said William A. Gindlesperger, a consultant to the commercial printing industry, “because they love to print.” –“The Form That Lets You Say, ‘More Forms, Please’,” Alison Leigh Cowan, The New York Times (via)
Scratch swerved the car around a cow, then a military vehicle equipped with a swivel gun. The speedometer clicked upward, and a man came into our sight, staggering down the edge of the road, carrying in his arms what appeared to be the limp body of a woman. The man shook his head at the passing traffic. Soon I could see that the woman’s head was bleeding, her eyes and mouth wide open, and her left hand dangling twisted and limp as if her sun-burnt skin were the only thing keeping it attached to her arm. Shouldn’t we stop? I wondered. We didn’t; no one did. Cars and trucks cut around the man and woman, kicking up tiny clouds of dust, and then past two crashed-up hatchbacks in a weedy ditch, where three men stood gesturing at the darkening sky. “Welcome to Kosovo,” Scratch said. –“The Wreckage of Intervention,” Christopher Stewart, The National
Whether democracy should be the utopia that all ‘developing’ societies aspire to be is a separate question altogether. (I think it should. The early, idealistic phase can be quite heady.) The question about life after democracy is addressed to those of us who already live in democracies, or in countries that pretend to be democracies. It isn’t meant to suggest that we lapse into older, discredited models of totalitarian or authoritarian governance. It’s meant to suggest that the system of representative democracy—too much representation, too little democracy—needs some structural adjustment. The question here, really, is what have we done to democracy? What have we turned it into? What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit? Is it possible to reverse this process? Can something that has mutated go back to being what it used to be? –“Is There Life After Democracy?” by Arundhati Roy, Dawn.com
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Ratio of the amount J. P. Morgan paid a man to fight in his place in the Civil War to what he spent on cigars in 1863:
The Food and Drug Administration asked restaurants to help Americans eat less.
Pope Francis announced that nuns could use social media, and a priest flew a hot-air balloon around the world.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”